Crescent Suzuki finally announced their full line up in World Superbikes for 2012, issuing a press release confirming the addition of John Hopkins to the team, to be racing alongside Leon Camier. The announcement of Hopkins as rider was no real surprise, and had been expected almost from the moment that Crescent announced their intention of racing in World Superbikes next season.
It was Suzuki's official confirmation - equally expected - that they would be withdrawing from MotoGP that allowed Crescent and Hopkins to finalize the deal. The American had been holding on to hopes of a return to the MotoGP series, either with the Rizla Suzuki squad or on a satellite Honda, but with Stefan Bradl taking the LCR slot and no Suzuki, the only options Hopkins had in MotoGP were a CRT ride. His loyalty to the team and the level of competitiveness expected from the Crescent Suzuki team (which, though it will not have any factory support, will be working closely with the legendary Japanese firm Yoshimura, see separate press release below) meant that the logical choice for the America was to switch to World Superbikes for 2012.
Hopkins looks likely to be able to run his favorite number, 21, in World Superbikes next season. The number is inextricably linked to the legendary Troy Bayliss, but in a combative post on his Twitter page, Bayliss said that he had just given up his number, adding "if some one thinks they can live it they can have it." This is a refreshing view on the retiring of numbers: when Loris Capirossi retired, Dorna moved to retire his #65 as quickly as possible, to the chagrin (and detriment) of Stefan Bradl, who lost both his number and a possible sponsor, in the shape of green energy firm Windreich, who offer 6.5% return on investment, and used Bradl's 65 as a handle to promote their brand. Bayliss looks set to allow Hopkins to run his old number, and see if Hopkins can live up to it. It is a challenge, but no doubt one that Hopkins will relish.
Below are the two press releases from Suzuki, announcing the signing of Hopkins and the partnership with Yoshimura:
HOPKINS TO CRESCENT SUZUKI FOR WSB
Team Suzuki Press Office - November 19.
Crescent Suzuki has retained the services of Californian John Hopkins for 2012, as he completes the two-man line-up for the team's World Superbike challenge.
Hopkins competed in the British Superbike championship for the UK based Crescent team in 2011 and has now put pen to paper to link-up with the team once again on the world stage.
Hailing from Ramona in California, but with English parents, Hopkins is still recovering in America, following surgery on a finger he damaged at Brno in the Czech Republic earlier this season whilst on MotoGP duty, but will be totally fit and focused in time for pre-season testing next year. He had a successful first season with the Crescent Suzuki team, narrowly missing out on the BSB championship at the last race of the year and he will now relish the chance to compete against the world's best Superbike racers on circuits where he has plenty of experience.
Hopkins will be joined at Crescent Suzuki by former BSB champion Leon Camier, whose addition to the team was announced last month. Camier will begin testing the Crescent Suzuki 'Powered by Yoshimura' GSX-R1000 at Portimao in Portugal later this month, with Hopkins joining him in the tests in early 2012. The first race of next year's calendar is scheduled for Sunday 26th February at Phillip Island in Australia.
"I am really happy to be joining up with the Crescent guys again. We had a great year in British Superbike and I'm sure we can continue that in WSB. I wanted to get back into world championship racing and this is a natural progression from last year. The difference this time is that I will be going to tracks that I already know and have some reference from, so that should make some things a bit easier.
"I know it's going to be a big step, but with some big technical advances and Yoshimura on board, I'm sure the bike will be fully competitive. It will be great to work with Lez Pearson again, as we built up a strong relationship and his understanding of the way the bike works will be invaluable next year.
"I'm also looking forward to riding with Leon. I'm sure he'll be strong next year and will be a difficult team-mate to beat and also one who will push me to the limit.
"I want to say thanks to Paul, Martyn, Jack and everyone at Crescent Suzuki for believing in me and giving me this opportunity. I can't wait to get on the bike and see what we can do. I know it's not going to be an easy task by any means, but I have every intention of going out and trying to earn my first ever world championship for myself and the team. I'll be doing everything in my power to make it happen."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"It's great to have John back onboard for next year and a real boost for the whole team that he has chosen to ride for us. He is a class act, not only for Crescent Suzuki, but for the whole Superbike series as well. The crowds will love him.
"I enjoyed working with him this year and, although he rode in the last three events with a severely injured finger, he only just missed out on the championship. That is history now and I look forward to continuing the relationship and building on what we achieved this year. I'm sure with what he learnt in BSB, and his experience on the tracks we will visit next year, that he will be able to get some spectacular results.
"I know he's really fired up for this and I'm looking forward to some exciting times. I cannot wait to see him and Leon out there next year."
Team Suzuki Press Office - November 16.
Crescent Suzuki is pleased to announce a collaboration with Yoshimura that will see the Japanese tuning company supporting the team as it enters its first year of World Superbike action.
Yoshimura will build, supply and develop the engines for the Crescent Suzuki GSX-R1000 that will participate in the 2012 World Superbike Championship, as well as supplying bespoke race performance exhausts. The Yoshimura engineers have already spent some time at the Crescent race headquarters in Verwood and evaluated the development that Chief Engineer Lez Pearson and his team have already made with the 2011 GSX-R engine. The Japanese company will work alongside Crescent to develop the motors further and make them as competitive as possible in time for the start of the 2012 season.
Yoshimura has an enviable record in the world of motorcycle racing and tuning. The company was started in 1954 by Hideo 'Pops' Yoshimura in Japan, followed by the opening of a tuning shop in North Hollywood, America in 1971. The work ethic and dedication installed into the company from day one by Pops still holds strong today and has seen Yoshimura have success in MotoGP, WSB and many national championships as well as in the world of motocross and supercross racing. Pops passed away in 1995, but his legacy will live forever in the history of motorcycle competition and it is that spirit and drive that Crescent Suzuki will now be a part of for its attack on the World Superbike series next year.
Crescent Suzuki SBK - powered by Yoshimura - will begin testing later this month with Leon Camier who was recently named as the first racer to join the team. His team-mate will be announced soon, as will further sponsorship and partner agreements. The 2012 World Superbike championship kicks off at Phillip Island in Australia in February.
Fujio Yoshimura - Owner, Yoshimura Japan:
"We at Yoshimura greatly appreciate this collaboration and it will be our highest priority. Thanks to Paul and Crescent Suzuki for trusting our engine tuning capabilities and our passion towards competing at the front of the 2012 WSBK Championship Series. We believe Crescent Suzuki has a record of structuring the best racing team in the BSB championship series, with very dedicated technical and supportive team members presenting the most competitive machinery and riders at all races. We hope that the partnership between Yoshimura and Crescent Suzuki will be the most perfectly matched racing team on the WSBK circuits!"
Paul Denning - Crescent Suzuki Team Principal:
"When Fujio and Yohei came to see me at the Japanese Grand Prix to discuss this partnership, it was clear that their passion and enthusiasm to work with Crescent Suzuki on the global stage was genuine and something they felt strongly about. For us as a team it is a significant level of assistance and a substantial boost to our performance potential. The Yoshimura company was built on engineering the best possible performance from engines and exhaust systems, and that principle has never changed. It is also very pleasing that the whole attitude to the project is of open communication and using the best combination of Yoshimura's own concepts and ideas and those which already exist in the Crescent developed engine.
"Yoshimura is a global household name in the motorcycle industry and we are very proud that they have shown such trust in the Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team to partner us so closely, and for us to uphold their honour on the world stage."
Jack Valentine - Team Manager:
"I'm very excited with the 'Powered by Yoshimura' partnership for next year and after spending time with Fujio, Yohei and the Yoshimura team both in Portimao and at the Crescent workshops, I can see they share the same passion and vision as our team. With that in mind it should make for a formidable partnership in SBK 2012."